SCRAM transdermal alcohol monitors studied throughout the U.S.
BUFFALO, NEW YORK—The New York 8th Judicial District Hybrid DWI Court was one of six jurisdictions in the U.S. profiled in a newly released National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study. The report, Transdermal Alcohol Monitoring: Case Studies, evaluates the impact of high-tech transdermal alcohol monitoring on drunk drivers and local communities.
Commissioned in 2010, the case studies take an in-depth look at high-tech, transdermal alcohol monitoring programs in six U.S. jurisdictions. The 8th Judicial District Program program, which began utilizing transdermal alcohol monitoring for DWI offenders in 2006, was chosen for the study due to the Court’s long-term use of transdermal alcohol testing technology. Drug Courts for the 8th District are located in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Amherst and Jamestown.
The NHTSA case studies evaluate the prevalence of transdermal alcohol bracelets, assess their reliability as a tool for monitoring drunk drivers, look at their implementation in a diverse set of offender management programs and share lessons learned for other jurisdictions looking to adopt the technology.
According to the report, the 8th Judicial District used random testing for alcohol consumption prior to SCRAMx, and officials say that testing protocol wasn’t sufficient. “Their program didn’t allow DWI offenders in their drug courts prior to SCRAM, because they didn’t feel they had a reliable mechanism for testing for alcohol,” says Lou Sugo, vice president of Marketing for Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems, which manufactures and markets the SCRAMx System. SCRAMx is the only transdermal system used in the program.
NHTSA researchers looked at multiple elements of each jurisdiction, including how each program integrates the transdermal alcohol testing with ignition interlock, electronic house arrest/monitoring, treatment and drug testing. In addition to utilizing transdermal bracelets, New York’s 8th District also conducts breath tests and examines biomarkers to monitor DWI offenders. The report concluded that transdermal alcohol monitors are prevalent, beneficial to courts and agencies, serve as a strong deterrent to drinking and are more effective than prior monitoring techniques, which were reported by agencies as inadequate.
Transdermal alcohol monitoring generally includes an anklet, worn 24/7, that tests for the presence of alcohol every 30 minutes by sampling the insensible perspiration constantly given off by the skin. The jurisdictions selected for the study were all programs that utilize the SCRAMx technology.
The Office of Court Administration manages the four DWI courts that make up the 8th District’s Hybrid DWI Court and works with the probation department to administer the program. Offenders in the program are referred to a private provider for initial installation of the bracelet, and are required to pay for the cost of installation, monitoring and final removal of the device. Offenders sign a contract that requires a minimum of six months of transdermal monitoring, with an additional six months or longer assigned if there is a non-compliance event. The average time spent wearing a SCRAMbracelet is 217 days, up from 198 reported at the time data was gathered in 2011.
DUI and SCRAM in New York
According to the NHTSA, there were 1,200 traffic fatalities in New York in 2010, 428 of them alcohol-related. That number is down from 1,454 traffic fatalities, 523 of them alcohol-related, in 2006, the year the SCRAMx System was first utilized in New York.
To-date there have been more than 4,400 offenders monitored statewide in New York, with jurisdictions throughout the state utilizing the technology, including a DWI Court program in Queens.
NHTSA, Continued Evaluation
NHTSA first reported on the reliability of transdermal testing in 2005, part of the agency’s three-pronged approach to evaluating new technologies on the basis of reliability, how the technology is used by the courts, and the long-term impact on recidivism and offender behavior. The agency is currently conducting the SCRAMx recidivism study, slated for release in mid-2013 which will take a broad range look at recidivism data for offenders sentenced to wear the SCRAMx Bracelets in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. “The reliability of SCRAMx has been studied and reported on repeatedly since we went to market. We’ve now progressed to a broader look at the best ways to apply the technology in order to maximize both short-term safety and long-term impact,” says Sugo.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS)
Established in 1997, AMS is the world’s largest provider of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) technology. AMS manufactures SCRAMx, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption and integrates home detention monitoring into a single anklet. SCRAMx fully automates the alcohol testing and reporting process, providing courts and agencies with the ability to continuously monitor alcohol offenders, increase offender accountability and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. AMS employs 131 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.